Investing in growth through our families

Zeta Beta Tau is proud of its vast history and traditions, and one of our most sacred is the growth of our Fraternity through family lines. The ZBT experience is something fathers can share with sons, grandfathers with grandsons.

From Winter 2021 Alumni News: Father/son Kappa Chapter legacy! Stephen E. Kesselman, Esq., 1978, was thrilled in early November to join his son Samuel (Sam) O. Kesselman, a senior and member of the Class of 2022 to attend Cornell University’s Kappa Chapter Parents Weekend festivities, joining more than 100 parents and family members. Brother Sam served as Chapter President last year; Brother Stephen served as Vice President 44 years earlier.

But ZBT needs help from our alumni to ensure these legacies are given proper consideration. Too often we find that legacies are not being reported in advance of recruitment. When all brothers invest in growth through our families, great things happen.

Several of ZBT’s largest chapters can brag that more than 50 percent of its undergraduate brothers are legacies, like Lambda Chapter at University of Texas-Austin, Alpha Delta Chapter at University of Southern California and Beta Gamma Chapter at Indiana University. We spoke with Beta Gamma alumnus and chapter advisor Jeffrey A. Kauffman, 1989, for some stories and tips on the impact of legacies.

“At Beta Gamma, legacy status is one of the more important aspects of recruitment. The decision to be a ZBT is a lifetime decision. We reiterate that it goes beyond the four years at university,” he said.

Brother Kauffman said the advisors reiterate with the undergraduate brothers that the Chapter and ZBT is what it is today because of those who came before them, and that while life on campus is different today, we honor the value of our history and share in traditions. Growing ZBT from within our families is as sacred as wearing the Pin or sharing in Good & Welfare.

Brother Kauffman shared a current example from Indiana University on why alumni are essential to the recruitment process. The brothers, now, are connecting with a first-year student who didn’t go through fall recruitment. His father, a ZBT alumnus, didn’t think to reach out to the Beta Gamma Chapter or to ZBT International Headquarters initially. But Brother Kauffman personally connected with the alumnus and now the son is interested in going through recruitment in the spring semester.

“We’re all about building family,” he said. “We always look for legacies we know about, and sometimes we find out a student is a legacy (later in the recruitment process) through friends or the profile the student fills out with the recruitment chairman.”

Impact stories

  • The Garfinkle/Garfield family of the Lambda Chapter at University of Texas has 100 years of history in our Brotherhood. The Lambda Chapter has an internal motto: “Legacy is law.”
  • The goal is to keep ZBT in the family.
  • There’s a new Collat serving as a ZBT leader: Younger brother Andrew M. Collat, 2023, was just elected Chapter President of Psi at the University of Alabama.

Action steps

For chapter officers or alumni brothers looking to connect with brothers at campuses with smaller chapters or a less developed legacy plan, it’s easy to start with small steps.

Remember that the Fraternity is broader than your campus and chapter. ZBT has had chapters on hundreds of campuses so the family members of potential brothers may come from anywhere. Brother Kauffman shared a story of a current brother of Beta Gamma Chapter who is a legacy from his grandfather, who attended the University of Manitoba, a chapter that was open from 1948-1972. The family lives in Denver, Colorado. The connection to ZBT at Indiana is less immediately obvious, but fortunately the young man was reported as a legacy to ZBT International Headquarters and Beta Gamma was able to recruit appropriately.

“Don’t just sit with your door open and wait to see who shows up, you have to reach out,” Brother Kauffman advised. He mentioned having a strong website and social media presence as important.

Chapters can reach out to ZBT International Headquarters to get alumni lists from their own chapter and in the local area.

How alumni and families can help

  • Spend some time with the student, talking about your ZBT experience.
  • Encourage them to reach out to their friends about joining ZBT.
  • Go to org/refer and make ZBT International Headquarters aware of who you know that is starting college or is in college prior to any recruitment taking place by the chapter brothers.

It’s great to be a ZBT family!